Share This Episode
Grace To You John MacArthur Logo

The Danger of Overconfidence, Part 2

Grace To You / John MacArthur
The Truth Network Radio
August 10, 2022 4:00 am

The Danger of Overconfidence, Part 2

Grace To You / John MacArthur

On-Demand Podcasts NEW!

This broadcaster has 964 podcast archives available on-demand.

Broadcaster's Links

Keep up-to-date with this broadcaster on social media and their website.

August 10, 2022 4:00 am

Click the icon below to listen.

Wisdom for the Heart
Dr. Stephen Davey
Living on the Edge
Chip Ingram
What's Right What's Left
Pastor Ernie Sanders
What's Right What's Left
Pastor Ernie Sanders
Alan Wright Ministries
Alan Wright
Alan Wright Ministries
Alan Wright

This discussion in chapters 8, 9, and 10 is a discussion of Christian liberty, and this point is very important in the area of Christian liberty, that the Christian in his freedom not get too overconfident, and that he realizes that there are limits that he has to impose on himself, even in his liberty. If you're a follower of Jesus, you've been freed from the ceremonial religious requirements of the law, you've been freed from the penalty and the power of sin, and you've been freed to walk in newness of life. The liberty you have in Christ is one of your greatest blessings.

But have you ever thought about how it's also one of your heaviest responsibilities? Few things can repel or attract more people to Christ. So how do you use your freedom in the right way? John MacArthur is going to show you today as he continues his look at how you avoid the pitfalls of Christian liberty. And with that, let's get to the lesson.

Here's John MacArthur. The key to the first 13 verses of 1 Corinthians 10 is verse 12. Verse 12 is the point that all of the other verses are trying to establish. Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall. The danger of overconfidence.

When you think you stand, you are the most vulnerable for a fall. That's the idea that Paul is dealing with in these 13 verses, this first paragraph of chapter 10. He shifts a little bit in the next paragraph beginning at verse 14, goes into another theme. But for this one, it is the theme of the danger of overconfidence. Now these are not isolated themes as they come in paragraphs in books, but they weave together very well and yet each one has a distinct identity all its own. Now the principle of verse 12 is a much repeated Bible principle.

Pride comes before a fall, we saw last time the Proverbs tell us. And so we need to understand what the whole passage is about. This discussion in chapters 8, 9 and 10 is a discussion of Christian liberty. And this point is very important in the area of Christian liberty that the Christian in his freedom not get too overconfident. And that he realize that there are limits that he has to impose on himself even in his liberty. And that's where it fits and we'll see that as we develop it a little further. Now the New Testament teaches a lot about Christian liberty and that's his theme in chapters 8, 9 and 10 of this letter.

It teaches a lot about it. Let me just give you the major points that identify Christian liberty. Christian liberty, and I want you to understand what it is and you will when I'm done, if you don't already. Christian liberty, number one, is granted by God. God gives to the believer freedom. In John 8, if the Son shall make you free, and it indicates that Christ is the agent of freedom. Galatians 5, 1 says, For freedom Christ has set us free. In Colossians 1, 13, God has delivered us out of the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of His dear Son. In 2 Corinthians 3, 17, where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom or liberty. So you have God, Christ and the Holy Spirit all tied into the liberty concept. Where does Christian freedom come from? It comes from the Trinity. It comes from God, the Godhead.

How is it received? How do you get free? How are you made free? John 8, If the Son shall make you free, you shall be really free.

It comes when you believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. John 8, 30, Many believed on His name. John 8, 31, And He said, If you continue in My word, then are you My disciples, and you shall be free. If the Son make you free, you shall be free for real. So we believe, we follow on to believe, and therein is our liberty. So Christian freedom then is granted by God at the time when we receive Jesus Christ. When we put faith in Christ, we are set free. Now what is this freedom?

What does the New Testament say it is? Number one is freedom from law. We no longer need to keep ceremonial laws. We no longer are subscribed to ritual and tradition.

There is now an internal guideline, the Holy Spirit. No longer external rules and regulations. We don't have to earn the favor of God. We're free from the law as a way to God, as a way to please God, as a way to fulfill God's desires for us.

And by that I mean the ceremonial law. Secondly, our freedom is freedom from the curse. The people who break the law are cursed, God says. We're free from that because Christ has paid the curse, right?

Cursed is everyone that hangeth on a tree, Galatians 3 says, and Christ was cursed for us. He became a curse for us that we might not be cursed or condemned or judged or damned or doomed. So our freedom is freedom from the law, that is from keeping a ritual. It is freedom from the curse, that is paying the penalty for our own sin. Then it is freedom also in Hebrews chapter 2 and verse 15 from the fear of death. We are free from the fear of death.

It says in Hebrews 2, 15, and deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage. Christ delivers us from the fear of death. And one thing a Christian should have is no fear of death.

We may fear the pain and we may fear the disease and the illness, but not death itself, because that simply ushers us into the presence of God. Another thing the Bible says about our freedom is in Romans 6, 7 it says we are free from sin. And what it means is that we are free from the condemnation of sin.

Sin cannot require anything of us because its penalty has been paid. It also tells us in the New Testament in 1 Corinthians 9, 19 that we are free from all men. And what Paul means is free from the rules and the traditions of men, free from man-made religious rules.

And in Galatians 4, 3 and Colossians 2, 20 it says we're free from Jewish ordinances. So, what is our freedom? It's freedom from the law, pleasing God by externals. It's free from the curse, having to pay the terrible curse of God for our own sin because it's already been taken care of. Free from the fear of death, free from what sin can do to us, free from human regulations of religion and free from Jewish ordinances.

We are free from all of those areas. Paul calls it the glorious liberty of the children of God. Now, another thing about it, it not only comes from God and I define it for you, but another thing about our freedom, it belongs to all Christians. There are not some Christians more free than others. In Galatians chapter 5 and verse 13, Paul says, "'For brethren, you have been called unto liberty.'" All Christians are called with a view toward freedom.

Called with a view toward liberty. Now, another thought about it the New Testament teaches is, in our freedom we are to hold on to it. Enjoy your freedom, people. Hang on to it. Don't give it up. Don't let anybody circumscribe you to outward ritual. Don't let anybody substitute ritual for reality.

Don't let anybody drag you into forms. You hold on to your liberty and you enjoy your freedom. You say, boy, that's good news.

That's right. You say, where did you get that out of the Bible? Galatians 5, 1. Stand fast, it says, or for freedom Christ has set us free. Therefore stand fast and don't be entangled again with the yoke of bondage. Stay within your liberty.

Enjoy your freedom. Galatians 2, 4 is a good illustration of it. Paul was always hounded by the Judaizers who wanted him to keep the law and get circumcised and circumcise all the Gentiles and make the Gentiles keep the ceremonies of Moses. So in Galatians 2, 4, And that because of false brethren unawares brought in who came in secretly to spy out our liberty, which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us into bondage. Here came the Judaizers, they were looking over the Gentile Christians and they were spying out their liberty.

What that really means is they were looking for weak points in the enemy's position like scouts, you know. They were trying to find where they were abusing liberty or where the liberty wasn't working so they could force them back into bondage. But verse 5, To whom we gave place by subjection?

No, not for an hour. We didn't let them take away our liberty. Man, we were free from Jewish ceremonialism and we weren't about to subscribe to it.

Not for an hour did we do that. Why, Paul? That the truth of the gospel might continue with you. Listen, if you give up your liberty all the time, needlessly giving up your liberty to ritual and form and ceremony and tradition, people will confuse that with the truth of the gospel. If you identify your Christianity by all the things you don't do, then people will think that's what Christianity is. Hold on to your liberty.

You say, but wait a minute. When the apostle Paul went to Jerusalem and they told him to go take a Jewish vow, he did it. How come he's willing in one place to keep the ceremony of Moses and he's not willing in another place? That's a fair question.

Let me give you the answer. He only gave up his liberty when it was necessary to reach the people he was dealing with. Listen, when the Judaizers tried to hassle Paul to circumcise the Gentiles, he says, forget it. The Gentiles don't even believe in circumcision anyway.

That's no problem with them. But when it came to working with the Jews, if circumcision was going to make Timothy better able to work with the Jews, he would circumcise Timothy. You see what the point is? You never give up your liberty needlessly or people confuse the gospel with what you do or don't do. But you will relinquish your liberty when in a society that you're in it would offend somebody.

That's the difference. It's one thing to be a Jew unto the Jews, it's something else to turn all the Gentiles into Jews. Paul says, not for a minute. So, your liberty comes from God. It is received through the gospel.

It is defined as freedom from the law, the curse, and all those things I mentioned. It belongs to all Christians. You're to hold onto it. And one other point.

And that's the point that gets us into 1 Corinthians 10. You're not to abuse it. Just because you're holding onto it and just because you have it, you can't abuse it. Now, here's the tension. On the one hand, see, you're holding, I'm holding my liberty, this is my right.

On the other hand, you don't want to offend anybody. You don't want to abuse your liberty. Now, there are two ways to abuse your freedom. I'm going to give you these two. We've covered one, we're covering another one.

Here they are. There are two ways to abuse your freedom. Number one, by doing things that offend other people. By doing things that offend other people.

And that will vary from culture to culture, year to year, age to age. Paul says, look, if I'm among Jews, yes, I will keep some Mosaic ceremonies. I want to reach them. But if I'm among the Gentiles, man, I'm not going to make them all do the Jewish laws, which they don't even understand anyway. That would just be to relinquish my liberty needlessly and confuse them.

So, he says in chapter 9, he went into it in great detail. One way to abuse your liberty is to do things that offend others. Say, I'm free in Christ, man. I can do whatever I want. I'll go out and do what I want.

I don't care what anybody thinks. I was talking to a missionary recently who were in Europe. They were in a little village, small area. And the women there did not shave their legs. That was just...and that's true in a lot of places in the world. But this particular place, they didn't do it. Only one kind of woman shaved her legs, and that was a prostitute.

That was the custom. And well, when the missionary ladies arrived with their legs shaved, it caused a lot of problems. Because the people did not understand that. And they had to relinquish their liberty at that point because they didn't want to be offensive, because of the identification. Now, that's principle number one. You're abusing your liberty when you're needlessly harming someone else, when you could relinquish it. Principle two. The second way you abuse your liberty is by doing things that could disqualify you from service.

In other words, when you run your liberty out to its limits and you're playing on the thin edge. I think of the little boy who climbed in the bunk bed one night. In the middle of the night there was a tremendous crash and he fell out and hit the floor with a thud and his father came running in and he was crying on the floor and he says, Well, what happened? How did you ever do that?

He says, I think I fell asleep too close to where I got in. You know, I think there's a lot of Christians who fall asleep too close to where they got in. And they're always flirting on the borderline. They got their liberty. They're running their liberty right out to the sheer edge. Paul says there are two dangers in the abuse of liberty. One, that you would offend somebody else.

Two, that you would get yourself in a position to be tempted to fall into sin and get disqualified from service. These two things make up chapter 9 and chapter 10 of 1 Corinthians. The first point of offending another is in chapter 9. The second point of getting yourself in trouble is in chapter 10. And he uses in chapter 10 verses 1 to 13 an illustration of Israel to make his point.

Israel fell asleep too close to where they got in and got in a lot of trouble. This is a powerful illustration. It kind of comes out of verses 24 to 27 of chapter 9.

Notice it. Paul says in 24 we're all in a race. We can potentially receive the prize, so run to win. Now what is the prize? To win people to Christ.

To be a sole winner. To be somebody who is used of God to win people to Christ. And he says if you're going to do that, you're going to have to be, verse 25, temperate or self-controlled. So he says that's the way I run in verse 26 and I keep my body and bring it into subjection unless I myself should become disqualified.

Now Paul says look. The Christian life is like a race. We're all Christians.

We're in the race. But some of us could get disqualified. It doesn't mean you lose your salvation.

No, no. It means you could be disqualified out of usefulness. He's talking about service, winning people to Christ, reaching people. And he says in order for me to really reach people, I have to bring my body into subjection. I have to be under self-control. I can't just let my body do whatever it wants. I've got to be careful about my liberties. I've got to be careful about what I allow for myself or I'll run myself right out into the sheer edge.

I'll get tempted and off I'll go and be disqualified and set out of service. And with that concept he moves into verses 1 to 13 of chapter 10 and he says this is exactly what happened to the Israelites. Because of a failure to limit their liberty, because of a failure to really deal with their bodies, to really exercise self-control, they lost out. Two million of them, according to John Davis, two million of them probably is the number that died in the wilderness. Their corpses strewn all over the wilderness. And we went into verses 1 to 5 last time in detail, the assets of liberty, and it just describes this nation Israel. Elected by God as a witnessing community to receive, to preserve, to pass on his revelation and to prepare the way for Messiah. They were freed, he says in verse 1, guided under the cloud and through the sea, identified with Moses. They all ate the same spiritual food. They were sustained by God and sustained in water, according to verse 4. They were freed, guided, identified, sustained as a witnessing community under the leadership of God's man Moses. And the parallel is obvious, people. The Christian is God's called out witnessing community, freed, guided, sustained, and union with Christ who is the head and leader.

And so he's making comparison. Israel was in a race. The prize was to be a witnessing community that could reach the world. But two million of them failed. Two million of them had their carcasses strewn all over the wilderness and got it to start with a new generation because they were disqualified.

Why were they disqualified? Because they abused their liberty? Because they pushed their freedom too far and they didn't put any restraints on it?

They just kept pushing and pushing and pushing until finally they fell. And that brings us to today. Let's look at the abuses of liberty from verses 6 to 10. There are assets of liberty listed in the first five verses and how did they abuse it? Look at verse 6.

Now these things were our examples to the intent we should not lust after evil things as they also lusted. This whole passage is written as an example. Verse 11 says the same thing. It says all these things happened unto them for examples. Now Israel is an example of somebody who has freedom. They've been freed, they've been identified with God, they're sustained and guided in the wilderness, and the misuse of their freedom results in their disqualification. Perfect illustration of his second way to abuse liberty by falling into temptation and sin because you're not careful.

Now what was going on? Well the whole overall thing is simply in verse 6, they lusted after evil things. Now you can do two things with your body. Verse 27 of chapter 9, you can bring your body under control. Or verse 6 of chapter 10, you can just let your body go wild and lust. If you bring your body under control, you're useful to God. If you bring your flesh under control, you're useful to God. If you're controlled by the Holy Spirit, if you're controlled by God, you're useful. If you're lusting after things and your body is in control and calling the shots, you're useless. If you are under control, you are qualified.

If you are out of control, you are disqualified from usefulness. Now specifically, what were the sins that Israel was committing? What ways did the flesh manifest itself?

All right, here we go. Number 1 in verse 7, idolatry. Neither be ye idolaters as were some of them, as it is written, the people sat down to eat and drink and rose up to play.

And he's going to make reference to a whole group of Old Testament incidents with wandering Israel. First of all, don't be idolaters. Now Israel was idolatrous, and this really hits the issue at Corinth because the Corinthians were living in a very potentially devastating society. The Corinthian society was totally overwrought with demons, manifesting themselves behind these different idols. And idolatry was a part of everything, I mean everything. There couldn't be any kind of public occasion or anything else that wasn't connected with idols. That was their entire society, just multiple gods.

And everything they did practically within the social framework of the Corinthian society had idols in it. And so the mature Christians, the Corinthian Christians, you know, who were the smug, confident ones that had been around a while, they were saying this, hey look, we're in this society. We're mature. We've been well taught. Apostle Paul's taught us.

We've studied under him for 18 months. We know our way around. Look, we've got to be a part of our society. We can go to the festivals, the social occasions, the ceremonies, and we can attend the celebrations of our society. We can get involved in all of those things, and we really don't have to fear because we're so confident, we're so mature that that stuff just doesn't really bother us. Then if we have to eat idol meat, meat offered to idols, that's really no problem. We're able to resist the temptation. And even if there is an orgy there, why, we'll just sit in a corner and discuss theology.

We're not going to really get involved, and we'll be strong enough to handle it. And so everywhere these mature, smug, confident Corinthians went, they were exposing themselves to the whole gamut of idolatry that was around them and trying to stay separated. But could they? Look at Israel. Paul said, look at them, hardly out of Egypt. And out in the desert there weren't even any idols around, but the first opportunity they had, the first time their leader was gone, they reverted back to Egyptian idolatry. And here were the Corinthians, not like Israel in the wilderness, but living in the middle of idolatry.

And if the Corinthians continually exposed themselves to idolatry, they were constantly being a part of it, believe me, it would creep right in. Look at the morality of our day. The morality of the church has changed dramatically, and the reason it's changed so dramatically is because we have been slowly brainwashed. Like 50 years ago, the morality of Christianity was much tighter, much more rigid, much more confined to the Scripture, and now little by little the morality even of, quote, Christianity begins to dissipate. And the reason is because we are in a society that is destroying all morality, that is wiping out all morality, and consequently we find ourselves buying the bag. Just subliminally it approaches our minds, and before we know it, we've got to water down morality. And some of the things we would do, some of the places we would go, wouldn't even have been conceived of by Christians 50 years ago.

The reason is we have slowly been brainwashed by the media. Paul is in a sense saying to the Corinthians, you can't set yourself up as somebody who thinks he stands without potentially falling, and especially you'll never be able to just waltz around your whole life with idolatry and not have it affect you. You're going to come up with a syncretism. You're going to come up with a wedding between idolatry and true worship. Now, verse 7, neither be idolaters as were some of them, notes that not all Israel worshiped at the golden calf. Some of them did.

It was an individual thing. Again, in dealing with Israel in the wilderness, remember, everything that occurred was an individual thing. And so in Corinth the same thing was true. Look at chapter 5, verse 11. Some Corinthian Christians were idolaters.

They had already made this wedding of Christianity to idol worship. Verse 11, I have written unto you not to accompany if any man that is called a brother. Now he's talking about Christians. Anybody called a brother, or at least called himself a Christian, be a fornicator, sexually evil, a covetous, or, and what?

Idolater, don't have anything to do with him. But apparently within the congregation of the Corinthian believers, there were some worshiping idols. You see, by fooling around with that, they couldn't keep separated. It slowly creeps in. It insidiously comes in. You can't continue to expose yourself to that and not have it affect your theology and find a place there. The line gets blurred, folks.

It just gets blurred, he says. And idolatry subtly creeps in when freedom is abused by getting too close to the content. You're listening to Grace to You with John MacArthur, Chancellor of the Masters University and Seminary. And today's lesson, highlighting the dangers of spiritual overconfidence, is part of his current study titled, Pitfalls of Christian Liberty. And John, I'm sure some listeners have exercised their Christian liberty only to find out that they offended another believer. So talk to that person who, even though his actions didn't violate Scripture or violate his own conscience, he still offended a brother or sister in Christ.

What steps can he take to mend that relationship? Well, an offense is a reality. We are not to be offensive as believers. And the way that we look at that is twofold. First of all, we don't want to offend someone by our sin. In other words, we don't want to be a real stumbling block to someone because we sin and they follow the pattern of our sin. But there's a second way in which we don't want to offend people, and that is we don't want to trample their sensitivities. In other words, the apostle Paul puts it this way, if meat causes my brother to be offended, I don't want to eat any meat. The kingdom of God is not about food and drink, so if I need to restrict, say in that case, eating meat that had been offered to idols, or if I need to restrict drinking certain things because it offends my brother, Paul says, I'm not going to eat meat.

I'm not going to do that. This is how love acts. Love does not offend. First of all, as I said, it doesn't offend in a sinful way, and it doesn't even offend in a freedom that sort of tramples on someone else's sensitivities.

There are things in my life that I don't do, not because the Bible forbids me, but because I don't want to offend people who might stumble at that. If you have offended someone, go to that person and make it right. Seek forgiveness and restore that love. Thank you, John. And now, friend, as John was saying, forgiveness is crucial to every relationship you have.

It just might redeem your marriage or deepen your bond with your children or strengthen your testimony at work. To make sure you understand forgiveness, both God's forgiveness of you and yours for others, I would encourage you to get John's book, The Freedom and Power of Forgiveness. Order a copy when you contact us today. Call our toll-free number, 800-55-GRACE or shop online at The title of this book, again, The Freedom and Power of Forgiveness. Get a copy in English or Spanish when you call 800-55-GRACE or shop at

That's our website, and when you visit there, Make sure you take advantage of the thousands of free resources that are there for you, including Grace Stream. Grace Stream is a continuous loop of John MacArthur's sermons, starting in Matthew chapter 1, verse 1, going all the way through the end of the book of Revelation.

It takes a couple of months to get through all of those sermons, and then we reset the cycle and they all repeat. Whether you have 15 minutes to listen or a couple of hours, jump into the Grace Stream today and anytime for verse-by-verse encouragement from the New Testament. You'll find Grace Stream at Now for John MacArthur, I'm Phil Johnson. Keep in mind, Grace to You Television airs this Sunday on DirecTV, Channel 378, or check our website to see if it's available on a channel in your area. And join us tomorrow when John looks at one of Israel's greatest sins and what that can teach you about your freedom in Christ. It's another half hour of unleashing God's truth one verse at a time on Grace to You.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-03-13 12:01:31 / 2023-03-13 12:12:57 / 11

Get The Truth Mobile App and Listen to your Favorite Station Anytime